Claire Porter
Great Divide
Seeley Lake, MT
Ben flew out of Kalispell, MT a few days ago and is back to Boston. I am disappointed that I won't hear his ukulele music anymore as he entertains himself, waiting for me to catch up to the top of each pass. It's been a wild adventure riding with him, and my friend Esther has joined me for the next week of riding. She was my roommate for a semester in college, and I'm excited to have her company but nervous about whether her bike will be able to handle the ruts and rocks of the Great Divide. Her noble steed is a Gunnar cross bike with 35c tires, the widest tires she has clearance for. I fear they won't be wide enough.

After a day of riding on the trail, we quickly discover that Esther's bike is indeed ill-equipped to swallow the gravel, rocks, and roots that the Great Divide is trying to force down its throat. I had no idea how treacherous the route would be when I invited her back in July to accompany me for a segment. It is rocky. Very rocky. We have taken to the highway for her comfort and safety, and my wide tires feel awkward and inappropriate for the pavement. I feel like I showed up for prom in snowboots­ awkward and inappropriate for the occasion.

Some of the Great Divide route has been closed north of Seeley Lake, as the trails in the area are currently ablaze. We were informed of this by a blue eyed ranger who pulled over along the highway to chat with us about the wildfires. His eyes were as blue as the lakes we had passed and his left arm looked strong like a Ponderosa pine. We listened intensely, and eventually the white Forest Service truck ripped down the highway, carrying the gorgeous ranger and our hearts along with it. Since we couldn't have ridden the trail anyway, I feel a little bit better about riding the highway. I still feel like I'm clomping around with my fat tires, and it is a struggle even to draft behind Esther on the highways. We're making great mileage though­ 50 miles on pavement is a breeze compared to the gravel and wash boarded unpaved roads of the Divide.

Seeley Lake is a quaint town, and when we ate dinner at restaurant, our waitress offered us a camping spot in her yard. Score! We took her up on the offer, and were delighted to learn that she doesn't own a car, just a silver and yellow Peugeot she rides to work everyday. On a final note, the wildfires this summer have really marked the trip. Trail closures, and the air is thick and hard to breath with all the particulate matter from the fire. We have been wearing bandannas over our mouths to filter out the particles that we are painfully aware of. On the flip side, the haze makes for beautiful sunsets. Hopefully the air will get better as we move south.

Onward!

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Claire Porter

Gear List

- My Blackburn Gear -

- Sleeping Gear -

- Eating Gear -

- Riding Gear -

- Clothes -

- FUN -

- Clean -

- MY BIKE SPECS -

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Claire Porter

- Great Divide Milestones -